June 14, the day Michelle Wie became the first woman to qualify for a USGA championship for men, was the most amazing day of my life. I played with Wie that day, so I feel like a small part of history. I shot 78-74, but Michelle went 71-74 and tied for medalist, which gets her into the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, July 11-16 at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio.
I had been looking forward to the pairing for more than a week, ever since a USGA official called to ask if I'd consider playing with her. I said yes before he even finished the question.
As we walked out of the golf shop at Cedarbrook Golf Course, outside Pittsburgh, my younger brother, John, who was caddying for me, joked that Michelle would pull up in a Hummer. "No, she won't," I said. Next thing I know, a black Hummer rolls up to the clubhouse, and who gets out? Michelle.
To answer the big question: Yes, Michelle outdrove me but only once on the holes on which we both hit driver. It happened on the par-5 10th during the second round. I hit a good drive just into the left rough. Michelle hit last, and I could tell she really smoked it. When we got to the balls, she was past me by about a yard. I looked over at my smiling dad, who was in the gallery, and said, "Yeah, she got me."
When we finished, she was tied for low score, but there were still a few groups left. At the scorer's table I got her to sign my pin sheet. It felt a little strange asking a 15-year-old girl for her autograph, but I got over it. Later I was in the restaurant when I heard a bunch of cheers outside. I opened the door, and there she was, walking toward me. "I made it," she said, with a huge smile on her face.
After she finished with the media, I got to talk to her again and have my picture taken with her. While we were playing, I hit a shot out of a hazard and got mud all over my white shorts, so I asked her to sign them. She wrote, "To Mike: Clean it please! Michelle." That was so cool. (Sorry, Michelle. I'm definitely not cleaning them.)
If Michelle wins the Publinks, she'll get an invitation to the Masters. I would love to see her play at Augusta. If she does make it, maybe I could score a couple of tickets to watch her play. That would be awesome, but it would still be only the second most amazing day of my life.
Mike Larkin, 21, of Gibsonia, Pa., recently graduated from Towson University, where he played on the golf team.
If you have a comment for Golf Plus, send it to letters@SI.timeinc.com.
TRUST ME by CHRIS LEWIS
Unless she wins the Publinks--and earns a Masters invite--Michelle Wie will turn pro by 2006.
TWO COLOR PHOTOS
JOHN LARKIN (2)
Larkin had Wie sign his mud-splattered shorts (inset) after their round.